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SQLFlow Playground Server

SQLFlow Playground Server exposes a REST API service that enables users to share the resources in one playground cluster. Users can take advantage of SQLFlow by installing a small plugin on her/his Jupyter Notebook.

This service is used to extend the SQLFlow Playground’s capability, especially when we need to manage the resource in the k8s cluster. We suppose the playground as a pure backend service (without Jupyter/JupyterHub) which provides machine learning capability for some frontend. It clearly is not for those who just want to connect to the SQLFlow server in the playground through our built-in Jupyter Notebook. Currently, this service is used to run our tutorials on Aliyun DSW for Developer which behaves as a frontend of our playground.

The Architecture

SQLFlow Playground Server is a side-car service of our playground cluster. Now, it is designed as an HTTP server which does user authorization, creates DB resource, and so on. This server uses kubectl to manipulate the resource in the playground(a k8s cluster). It’s in someway the gateway of the playground. As described in the below diagram, the interaction of the three subjects could be: Clients ask the playground server for some resource. The server authorizes the client and create the resource on the playground. The client connects to the SQLFlow server in the playground and does train/predict tasks using the created resource.

   ----------------run task--------------------------->
   |                                                  |
Clients <--> Playground Server <--> Playground[SQLFlow Server, MySQL Server...]

Supported API

Request URL path is composed by the prefix /api/ and the API name, like:

This service always uses HTTPS and only accepts authorized clients by checking their certification file. So there is no dedicated API for user authentication.

Currently supported API are: | name | method | params | description | | - | - | - | - | | create_db | POST | {“user_id”: “id”} | create a DB for given user, json param | | heart_beat| GET | user_id=id | report a heart beat of given client |

How to Use

For Service Maintainer

The maintainer should provide the playground cluster, and bootup a SQLFlow Playground Server. The server should have privillege to access the kubectl command of the cluster. To install the server, maintainer can use below command:

    mkdir $HOME/workspace
    cd $HOME/workspace
    pip install sqlflow_playground
    mkdir key_store server
    sqlflow_playground --port=50052 \
      --ca_crt=key_store/ca/ca.crt \
      --server_key=key_store/server/server.key \

In the above commands, we first installed the sqlflow playground package which carries the main cluster operation logic. Then, we use the key tool to generate a server certification file (Of course, it’s not necessary if you have your own certification files) which enables us to provide HTTPS service. Finally, we start the REST API service at port 50052.

Our playground service uses bi-directional validation. So, the maintainer needs to generate a certification file for a trusted user. Use below command and send the generated .crt and .key file together with the ca.crt to the user. some_client

For The User

To use this service, the user should get authorized from the playground’s maintainer. In detail, user should get ca.crt, client.key and the client.crt file from the maintainer and keep them in some very-safe place. Also, the user should ask the maintainer for the sqlflow server address and the sqlflow playground server address. Then, the user will install Jupyter Notebook and the SQLFlow plugin package and do some configuration. Finally, the user can experience SQLFlow in his Jupyter Notebook.

    pip3 install notebook sqlflow==0.15.0

    cat >$HOME/.sqlflow_playground.env <<EOF
SQLFLOW_SERVER="{sqlflow server address}"
SQLFLOW_USER_ID="{your name}"
SQLFLOW_PLAYGROUND_SERVRE="{sqlflow playground server address}"
SQLFLOW_PLAYGROUND_SERVER_CA="{path to your ca.crt file}"
SQLFLOW_PLAYGROUND_CLIENT_KEY="{path to your client.key file}"
SQLFLOW_PLAYGROUND_CLIENT_CERT="{path to your client.crt file}"

    export SQLFLOW_JUPYTER_ENV_PATH="$HOME/.sqlflow_playground.env"
    # start the notebook and try use %%sqlflow magic command
    jupyter notebook


We use tornado as the web framework which provides a very good request dispatching mechanism. By the way, this framework is also adopted by Jupyter Notebook. The request processing is split into two steps:

  1. Register a request handler

     tornado.web.Application([(r"/", MainHandler)])
  2. Implement the handler as a class, the method name get imply it accepts GET requests.

     class MainHandler(RequestHandler):
         def get(self):
            self.write("hello SQLFlow!") 

    In addition, We add a k8s manipulate class, which can create resource in the cluster. It’s now implemented in a brutal way (use kubectl). We may refine it by using k8s’s API.